Didn't they average over 17,000 in 1998? Which is close to the Rock's capacity? In a more inaccessible arena that got worse over time? Still had to compete with others back then. With the right marketing and on-the-ice success like I mentioned, there's no reason why they couldn't average between 90-100% imo.
I never majored in socio-economics, but the financial structure of 1998 vs today, is 2 different worlds. I don't think people realize how a cardinal recession this historic, impacts sports. (or any disposable income type activities for that matter) People simply don't have the money to spend on a game.. food.. transportation.. parking.. etc. That's really all it boils down to.
I don't know if I'm just speaking for me, but the bottom line is.. if I had the money.. I would go more often.. simple as that.
The world of 1998 was also a world free of Stubhub, Craigslist, e-bay, and other such user-friendly ticket scalper agencies. Although these organizations offer easy/fast/cheap services to the working class man, they're inadvertently crippling the revenue from the gate. My friend's a sales rep for the Islanders. He makes season ticket calls routinely, and what he says always resonates with me; "When someone says 'I can get tickets for $6'.. how do I compete with that?" This puts a stranglehold on many franchises, and creates a disadvantage with some of the smaller market teams.
How many teams are mismanaged? Quite a bit. How many have owners that really don't care? Quite a bit.
I think contraction should absolutely be taken into consideration. When you're talking about hockey in the United States (in any financial era, not just the recession) 30 teams, is just too damn many. For the past 20 years, the NHL got too big for their britches.. and has grossly spread themselves too thin. You look at places like Columbus, Nashville, Phoenix, Carolina, Atlanta, etc.. should we ever have gone there in the first place? There were 21 teams in the NHL in 1991!! How did all of this happen??
I also feel the NHL season faces the same problem the NBA's does, in terms of length. 82 games is too many. June should be a month for BBQ's, the boardwalk, and baseball.. not hoisting Lord Stanley. When you have that many games throughout the year, your going to have instances of lack of interest from the casual fan.
Is the casual fan really going to go to a Tuesday night Devils game against Edmonton? I think if you had a 65 game season, with more divisional games and less filler, the league's overall average on attendance would improve.
EDIT: I don't think the Devils are moving though. For any owner to get them out of their 30 year lease with the Newark Housing Authority (especially with no Nets in 2 years) would be a trick even Houdini would marvel over. To have a new arena.. empty? The city of Newark just wouldn't allow it.
Edited by Beezer34, 04 November 2011 - 11:17 PM.